Remember just a few short years ago when “going green’ was the new thing? Organizations embraced the concept of saving money, being mindful of the environment and focusing on sustainability. And while it always made sense to me for Facilities Managers to be in charge of Green Workplace initiatives, I also noticed lots of human resource professionals tasked with creating company recycling programs and monitoring office thermostats. I have to admit that I, personally, never got the connection of giving those sorts of tasks to HR. Nevertheless, many HR professionals (with input and research from SHRM) determined that green initiatives were a necessary aspect of overall Corporate Social Responsibility.
As I look ahead to 2013 I believe that human resource professionals will find that an old mantra (so often repeated when exploring green initiatives) - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - can take on new meaning.
Reduce consumption/waste and buy less. Certainly those of us in any line of the business (not just HR) are regularly looking for ways to do ‘more with less’ in order to reduce expenses. In 2013 more HR professionals will adapt greater efficiency models as they realize that truly cutting the waste from HR/Recruiting practices can reap benefits and bring value to their organizations. They’ll find ways to streamline by eliminating redundancies and tossing out legacy processes that serve no purpose. In some cases this will be due to operational efficiencies brought about by technology and in some cases it will be brought about by someone (anyone!) finally stepping in, asking “why?” and not accepting the answer “because we’ve always done it that way.”
Reuse items by finding new uses for them. The last few years have given us lots of shiny, sexy and seductive tools for use in HR – snazzy technology, social platforms with splashy user interfaces and must-have add-ons to our existing programs. HR and Recruiting teams have created accounts on social channels only to abandon them with nary a care after a few months. They’ve spent months investing time and energy on initiatives and projects (often dreamed up after someone attended a conference) but now realize that their project may not the appropriate solution for their problem. And that’s ok – because they’ll realize they can re-imagine that idea or take that tool/technology/platform and find a meaningful and necessary use that works for their organization…now.
Recycle by taking the ‘valuable’ parts of trash and turning them into new items. During the last few years we’ve seen lots of legislative and regulatory activity that affects the workplace ranging from the impact of the Affordable Care Act to rulings by the National Labor Relations Board. SCOTUS, POTUS and EEOC interpretations - the alphabet soup that we feast on in HR. These are the foundational building blocks of what we do and why we do it; the things we cannot discard. In 2013 HR professionals will increase their value as organizational advisors and SMEs when they embrace the fact that they possess an amazing base of knowledge (oftentimes out of necessity) as relates to how organizations must hire, manage and compensate employees. In recent years, these important albeit non-glamorous aspects of HR have been relegated to the dustbins of HR Departments. But this stuff is not trash and there will be an affirmaing realization that the foundational aspects of HR Management are important – providing HR professionals with a sense of renewal and rejuvenation.
So in 2013 I predict that HR professionals and leaders will focus on reducing waste, reusing their best ideas in new ways and recycling the message that HR is a knowledge center.
Those can be some effective, and sustainable, initiatives.